George Perris is a half-Greek half-French international singer, songwriter, musician and producer. He is multilingual and sings in Greek, French, English, and Spanish.
Perris was born and raised in Greece, to a French mother, the novel writer Joelle Lopinot – Mastrantoni and a Greek father. From a very young age, he wanted to become a singer and started piano lessons from the age of 4. He studied Greek literature, Ancient Greek and Latin at Athens University.
- George, I really appreciate all the time you’ve given to be here with me to conduct this interview. First, I want you to describe to us how was to grow up in a multicultural family once your mother is French and your father is Greek.
Thank you for having me, it’s a real pleasure to find all my fellow Greeks outside of Greece! It was very interesting and rich; there’s a dichotomy in the way I grew up: everything was Greek from morning till noon: school, friends, jokes. As soon as I went back home, everything turned French: the music, the stories, and the language we mostly spoke in the house. This allowed me from a young age to appreciate both my countries and to choose the elements I felt suited me best. I’ve always believed that growing up like this gave me more freedom and deeper roots.
- What was the incentive it get you to start singing at the age of four?
Music has always been my only way of survival. At the time, my parents were going through a violent and aggressive divorce that traumatized me as a child. Music and singing were my only way out. It was the only place I could find solace and safety. Through the years, music has given me the freedom and the strength to be whom I wanted to be.
- Who are the people influenced you in your youth?
I’ve had quite a few childhood heroes, but my stronger influence was Nana Mouskouri. Her incomparable voice, the emotion she put in her singing, and the fact that she sang in so many languages just mesmerized me. Later, I discovered Maria Callas and I went through a phase in my early teens where I wanted to become an opera singer! In my teenage years, I was influenced a lot by Manos Hadjidakis, George Dalaras, and George Michael!
- What’s your daily regimen? Does it include any hobbies?
Depends on whether I am on tour or not. If I’m not touring, I’m probably locked in a studio working on the next album or project! I don’t have a specific regimen, I work many hours a day but I always find the time to take care of myself. Whether I’m meeting with friends or going out for a walk in nature, I try to give myself small bits of pleasure. However, vocal lessons, gym, and therapy are regulars on my weekly calendar! As for hobbies, I usually cook a lot; I love spending time in the kitchen preparing meals for the people I love! In the summer, I spend endless hours in the sea, collecting shells.
- You were very young when you got on stage. How did you feel the first time?
I was 17 years and 10 months old when I sang professionally for the first time. It was with the great Mimis Plessas. I will never forget the excitement, the awe, and the butterflies in my stomach!
- What are some of the collaborations you have to remember during your music career?
I learned from each collaboration I’ve had over the years. In Greece, working with Mario Frangoulis broadened my horizon, as well as with Evanthia Reboutsika and Lina Nikolakopoulou. Overseas, my collaborations with Michel Legrand, Lara Fabian, and Tina Arena have definitely marked both my personality and my heart.
- If I had to ask you to pick one who would be considered your mentor?
Nana Mouskouri, undoubtedly. Even though we haven’t sung together so far, the influence she’s had on me is tremendous. Lately, we have been talking a lot on the phone and I keep her mentorship, kindness, and deep politeness as precious gems in my heart.
- I’m a great admirer – a follower of your social media and I saw quite a few years ago, Whoopi Goldberg posted the video of one of your songs on her social media. Tell me a few things about it and how you felt?
I was deeply touched and honored. She posted my song “How many does it take”, which is a song I wrote for addiction. Being a recovering alcoholic herself, she was moved by the song and decided to post it to her fans. I was blown away!
- You’re about to release a new album. Can you disclose a few things?
My new album, called “No Armor”, is a collection of songs that have shaped me through the years. Mostly covers like Abba’s “I have a dream”, “Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” and Billie Eilish's “My future”, all arranged with Greek traditional instruments such as the bouzouki and mandolin to give them a Greek texture. I have also translated a few of my Greek songs written by Evanthia Reboutsika and Lina Nikolakopoulou into English, as I wanted my identity to be crystal clear for this album and also to show that music has no barriers, no frontiers. In a few months, we will also release a deluxe version of the album with bonus tracks in multiple languages.
- You have performed in numerous galas to raise funds for children who come from adversity. Do you believe society, in general, contributes to the well-being of other people?
I think that we people should contribute to the well-being of other people, regardless of our profession. If we all do our part, even if it’s tiny, then the world will be a better place. I have a soft spot for children and their rights and that’s why I am so involved with organizations that specialize in this field and always sing for children.
- Since you’re young and you have a long way to go, what are some of your dream collaborations you would be fond of?
They’re too many to tell! There are artists in many countries that I admire and would love to work with, even though I’ve already realized some of my dreams. Adele, Pablo Alboran, Juliette Armanet, and Olafur Arnalds are just a few names from a very long list.
- Recently, you talked about your sexual orientation by being gay and the responsibility your statement carries. Why did you decide to state this now?
For me, it’s a matter of political stance. It’s part of my responsibility towards society. Music is one part of my responsibility but so is my position on various subjects. I never hid my life and I will go on living my life exactly as I did before. However, I do realize that there are people out there -especially young people- who don’t have that luxury. My generation’s calling is to bring mental health to the forefront. And that means fully accepting minorities as equals. If I can help even one person by speaking and being a part of this public discussion, then I’ve played my part.
- If this interview was taped and you had to sing in front of the camera, what would be the song dedicated to the readers?
It would be “Somewhere” from West Side Story. To me, this song is the ultimate anthem of hope and in these crazy and violent times we live, I think we all need hope.
- What is your life mantra?
I don’t have a specific one. Just try to do your best and be kind.